Baltimore nonprofit strengthens community workforce

07/18/2022| Samantha Foley

Baltimore nonprofit strengthens community workforce

07/18/2022 | Samantha Foley

Civic Works  has been paving the way for community workforce development since the nonprofit opened its doors in 1993. Its Center for Sustainable Careers  workforce training and development program is single-handedly expanding access to careers to Maryland residents in need, with one goal: helping to secure a stable career in today’s ever changing workforce climate.

The apprenticeship-style program positions graduates for careers that are progressive and full of opportunities for advancement, serving residents that are typically overlooked in the current job economy. Many of the program’s graduates have been impacted by the criminal justice system, limited by the lack of a valid driver’s license or transportation, and come from differing socio-economic backgrounds. Civic Works helps to level the playing field by providing training, credentials, and even funding to help purchase vehicles or provide necessary transportation.

The organization recently celebrated its 1000th graduate of the program, and every graduate is from Maryland. Graduates of the program have a job placement rate of 85 percent and have an average wage placement of just over $18 an hour. Most graduates go on to maintain a stable career, achieved from the foundational skills learned and support given through Civic Works.

“At our training center, we see firsthand how career training can transform communities and people,” said Eli Allen, director of Civic Works’ Center for Sustainable Careers. “Each day Baltimore residents walk in our doors with the drive and determination to succeed in a career. The missing pieces we help provide are marketable job skills and a connection to an employer willing to give them a chance.”

The organization operates through incumbent worker and apprentice-style programs gained through partnerships with various businesses and organizations across the community, providing hands-on training and on the job experience to build up necessary skill sets. Civic Works also provides key resources such as job readiness preparation, interview practice, mock interviews, resume help, and even directly facilitates interviews with future placement job opportunities.

The Center is focused on providing its participants with the technical and soft skills training needed to succeed in one of its five career tracks: solar installation, home energy efficiency, brownfields remediation, stormwater management, and utility infrastructure The organization partners with businesses such as BGE to train graduates for work with contractors in areas like utility infrastructure work, natural gas lines, road and asphalt work, and work on electrical transmission lines. The organization also currently houses a solar energy installation training program, aimed at promoting sustainability, partnering with sustainable energy companies like Lumina Solar, Solar Energy Services, and Solar Gaines. These companies work as employer partners, matching Civic Works participants with on-the-job training, which often leads to a permanent position, promotions, and in some cases even becoming lead installers for job sites.

Civic Works serves community members from all walks of life and varying levels of education, from young adults and high school graduates looking to enter the workforce, to careers changers, and those looking for a viable second career option. The nonprofit also aids in the necessary steps to pursue further education, by providing support for GED certifications and high school diplomas.

Carving the skill set and education needed to thrive and having a direct employer connection is the key to success for these graduates. Oftentimes, graduates come back to the program and offer a unique perspective of their experiences, sharing career inspiration stories, speaking at graduation events and many even become staff members for Civic Works themselves. While the organization has many ongoing partnership and sponsorship programs with various state and local stakeholders, Civic Works is always looking for new opportunities to network and grow. The nonprofit accepts donations in order to provide funding to those who need it most.

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